Philadelphia 76ers need to continue trusting Brett Brown

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Despite a tough loss, the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans need to continue trusting head coach Brett Brown.

The higher seeded Boston Celtics did exactly what they were supposed to do in defending their home court as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers (108-103) to take a 2-0 series lead on Thursday. It’s not time for Sixers fans to panic or think that the young team has finally hit a brick wall. If anything, it is time for Brett Brown to continue to grow with his team, as they all gain valuable playoff lessons. Brown, who has four championships as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, has a tough task on his hands as he leads his young team back home to the familiar confines of the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday for Game 3.

One of the more formidable task in front of Brown at the moment is figuring out what has happened to Ben Simmons. Has he been told he has not been named Rookie of the Year, or is something personal going on? Whatever the case, it is very apparent that Simmons is not playing anywhere near the level of play that he exhibited throughout the majority of the regular season along with the first round against the Heat. And it’s not just the Celtics’ defense, as it seems as if Simmons is just not engaged.

The Sixers have lost only once in the last 21 games at home, so hopefully a little home cooking will bode well for the squad that many have picked to win the Eastern Conference, if given the opportunity of course. While Philadelphia has only lost once at home in this year’s playoffs, the Celtics haven’t won on the road yet, while the Sixers traveled to Miami to win two games in the first round.

The Sixers outplayed the Celtics on both ends of the floor for the majority of the first half in Game 2, but Boston was able to go on an epic run before the end of the second quarter that left Philadelphia with an uncomfortable feeling. Clearly, there was a difference between the Sixers team that played and lost in Game 1 on Monday compared to the squad that took the floor on Thursday for Game 2.

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Not to mention, the return of Jaylen Brown provided the Celtics with a huge spark off of the bench that the Sixers couldn’t match. No one expected this to be a cake walk for the Sixers, as they face the higher seeded Celtics, but the Sixers looked awful in their Game 1 loss. While it was painful to watch the 22-point lead evaporate before halftime, it was a much needed kick in the butt for a young team that needed to be reminded of some of the mistakes that plagued them earlier in the season.

It is encouraging, however, because we have seen Brown right the ship before and his troops have the utmost confidence in him to right the ship that has gone slightly off course. Can Brown make the necessary in-series adjustments while calling the necessary timeouts when his young team needs some settling down? Better yet, will he make the right rotation substitutions? Will he be able to create the effective mismatches and effectively counter the game plan of the opposing coach? Brown did a masterful job in out-coaching Erik Spoelstra in the first round, but the young genius of Celtics coach Brad Stevens is a completely different challenge.

So far, Brown has held his own, channeling his inner Nick Saban and making substitutions that have critics and fans alike scratching their heads. After dominating the first round, it appears that something is definitely amiss with Simmons, and Brown has adjusted accordingly, but it’s not been enough. Not only is T.J. McConnell taking minutes from top overall first pick Markelle Fultz, but Brown has McConnell on the floor even more than Simmons, and its working.

Athletically, he seems overmatched whether guarding Terry Rozier or the son of baseball great Barry Larkin, Shane Larkin, but McConnell has been the most effective point guard for the Sixers so far in this series. In 31 minutes against the Celtics in Game 2, Simmons finished with just one point while McConnell scored eight points in only 17 minutes. We have yet to see the athletic Fultz, who it would seem would tremendously help the Sixers against the shifty Boston guards, but also McConnell is playing too good to replace right now.

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Whatever the reason, Brown has a lot of questions to answer as he guides his young team to what has thus far been a character challenging series. We were concerned about the Sixers inexperience heading into the playoffs, but Brown has always found a way to overcome the obstacles faced in their path. It will be exciting to see how the guru coach figures out how to win this series, and hopefully advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.